Bad Breath?

March 30th, 2015 - By steve.mccormack

Have a look at this Oxyfresh or CloSYS web site.  The Products section is helpful.

The active ingredient is Chlorine Dioxide … and it Works!

Obviously there can be several causes of bad breath, but the “volatile sulfur compounds” that accumulate on the tongue are the number one culprit.  Click on a link below.

Oxyfresh Link

This is what clean teeth  REALLY  look like!


25 Years In 2015

March 1st, 2015 - By steve.mccormack

McCormack Dental Office

Celebrating 25 Years in St Croix Falls

IMG_4340As of 2015  I have had my dental office in St Croix Falls for 25 years !

To celebrate that milestone I decided to spearhead a campaign to get donors for these bike racks in town.  28 racks were donated at $300 apiece.

I kicked off the campaign and donated 6 racks myself.  [Better than a pig roast for my patients I thought.]

It is an effort I have undertaken to develop our city theme, “City of Trails.”   Our 4 trail types are Snow … Foot … Bike … and Water.


[1] Infant Fluoride Recommendations

February 10th, 2015 - By steve.mccormack

infant formula

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in October 2006 announced that it will allow bottlers to claim that fluoridated water may reduce the risk of caries (tooth decay). The American Dental Association (ADA) agrees with the FDA that this health claim is not intended for use on bottled water marketed to infants, for whom lesser amounts of fluoride are appropriate. The right amount of fluoride is needed to help protect teeth and prevent caries. Fluoride intake above optimal amounts, however, creates a risk of developing enamel fluorosis in teeth during their development before they erupt through the gingiva (gums). Most cases of enamel fluorosis result in faint white lines or streaks on tooth enamel that are not readily apparent to the affected person or the casual observer.

The optimal fluoride level in drinking water is 0.7 to 1.0 parts per million, an amount that has been proven beneficial in reducing caries. In some areas, naturally occurring fluoride may be above or below these levels. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires notification by the water supplier if the fluoride level exceeds 2 ppm.
People living in areas where naturally occurring fluoride levels in drinking water exceed 2 ppm should consider an alternative water source or home water treatments to reduce the risk of fluorosis in young children.

The ADA offers these recommendations to reduce fluoride intake from reconstituted infant formula. Breast milk is widely acknowledged as the most complete form of nutrition for infants. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends human milk for all infants (except for the few for whom breast-feeding is determined to be harmful).

For infants who get most of their nutrition from formula during their first 12 months, ready-to-feed formula is preferred to help ensure that their fluoride intake does not exceed the optimal amount.   If liquid concentrate or powdered infant formula is the primary source of nutrition, it can be mixed with water that is fluoride-free or contains low levels of fluoride to reduce the risk of fluorosis. These include water labeled as purified, demineralized, deionized or distilled, as well as reverse osmosis filtered water. Many stores sell these types of drinking water for less than $1 per gallon.

Parents and caregivers should consult with their dentist, pediatrician or family physician regarding the most appropriate water to use in their area to reconstitute infant formula. Ask your pediatrician or family physician whether water used in infant formula should be sterilized first (sterilization, however, will not remove fluoride).



Unless advised to do so by a dentist or other health care professional, parents should not use fluoride toothpaste in children younger than 2 years, because they may inadvertently swallow the toothpaste.  Children 2 years and older should use an appropriate-sized toothbrush with a small brushing surface and only a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste at each brushing. They should always be supervised while brushing and taught to spit out, rather than swallow, toothpaste.

Fluoride mouth rinses have been shown to help prevent caries in both children and adults. Unless the child’s dentist advises otherwise, the ADA does not recommend the use of fluoride mouth rinses in children younger than 6 years, because they may be more likely to inadvertently swallow the mouth rinse. Fluoride supplements are not recommended for children younger than 6 months. Children should receive only dietary supplemental fluoride tablets or drops as prescribed by their dentist or physician based on the supplement schedule approved by the ADA, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry
(visit “”).

Artificial Joints and Antibiotics

January 23rd, 2015 - By steve.mccormack

Do you have an artificial knee or hip joint?  

Have you been taking antibiotics before all dental appointments?

You may not have to take those antibiotics anymore.


An American Dental Association panel of experts, in conjunction with the published recommendations from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons from  2012 has made this clinical recommendation…

“In general, for patients with prosthetic joint implants, prophylactic antibiotics are NOT recommended prior to dental procedures to prevent prosthetic joint infection.”  Probably 90% or more of patients will NOT need antibiotics now.

Reasons to continue taking these antibiotics before your appointment are:

  • if you are immuno-compromised
  • if you have had joint infections or complications
  • if you have ever taken osteoporosis medicines
  • if you have been on long term steroids like prednisone

HOWEVER …. the local orthopedic group of surgeons … St Croix Orthopedics … has chosen to continue to tell ALL patients to continue with antibiotics before all dental appointments.   This conflict in recommendations will confuse patients, so I would suggest you have a serious discussion with your surgeon at your next visit.

Ask them”why do I have to take antibiotics …. it is not what is currently recommended?”

Dr. McCormack will follow the recommendations of the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons … and discuss with each individual patient whether they should take antibiotics or not for their dental care.

[2] The Importance of Fluoride

December 15th, 2014 - By admin

fluoridated water


The American Dental Association position on Community Water Fluoridation

• All water, including lakes, rivers and the ocean, contains naturally occurring amounts of fluoride.   If the natural level of fluoride in water is very low, public water systems may adjust it to an optimal level proven to help prevent tooth decay–approximately 1 part of fluoride dissolved in a million parts of water. This process is called community water fluoridation.
• Based on the weight of scientific evidence, which indicates that community water fluoridation can help prevent up to 40 percent of tooth decay, the American Dental Association remains a strong advocate for community water fluoridation.    The World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the ADA and many other health organizations acknowledge that water fluoridation is a public health measure that has contributed to a significant decline in dental decay over the past 70 years.

Teenagers and POP … Not Good!

June 11th, 2014 - By steve.mccormack

Sip All Day and Get Decay.

It all counts … Pop, Diet Pop, Gatorade, Power Aid, Red Bull ,etc. 

It’s all about the sugars and acids.      If you sip all the time you WILL get decay.

Click on the Texts Below for a Fun Video on Pop Drinking.


Soda Girl Video

SODA Guy Video


Over the Counter Whitening Products

May 10th, 2014 - By steve.mccormack

What about OTC whitnening products like strips, toothpastes, rinses, etc?

There are various products made by Crest and Rembrandt that are safe and effective.  However, they are not for everyone.      Also, their effectiveness and usefulness are limited.

  • Whitestrips   …   these are small strips [think cellophane tape] that fit over the front teeth and have a gel on the inside.  This gel has a similar active ingredient as the office gels we supply as part of our home whitening system.  These are sold in retail stores and are OK to use for some … not for others.   Name brands like Crest or Rembrandt are reputable manufacturers.
  • Whitestrips … Who should use them?   First of all, note that all bleaching products only work on natural teeth, not fillings or crowns.   I have not seen consistent success with adults.    For ages 18-30 it can be very effective for many.     For most adults the office supplied, customized products we use can get very good results and with fewer side effects.
  • Rinses and toothpastes   …  Most of these have minimal effectiveness for “whitening.”    They primarily help to eliminate or reduce surface staining.     Also, some people develop sensitivity with their teeth with regular use.  Bottom line   …   pick a toothpaste that tastes good and has fluoride.    They are all so similar as to make them essentially equal.
  • In-Office [one appointment] bleaching… This is a system that uses very concentrated products to get your whitening done in a single appointment.      I am not an advocate of this because it is expensive, labor intensive, can cause more tooth sensitivity, and usually doesn’t end up with any better result than our home whitening system.
  • Custom made Home bleaching traysThis is our preferred method.  It allows flexibility for length of time used and allows flexibility on the most appropriate products.     Also, if you keep your tray you can touch up once a year and simply buy another tube or two of the bleaching gel.   We supervise its use and can usually get very nice results.
  • Ready-made Opalescence trays.  These are one-size-fits-all trays [supplied by our office] that apply a whitening strip to your teeth.  This strip stays on for 30-60 minutes since it is a high strength whitening agent.  I like this for younger people since it is very effective for them.  It is not as good for patients with tougher stains that require longer use and custom trays.

This information  supplied by  Dr. McCormack

Same Day Implants and Dentures?

February 3rd, 2014 - By steve.mccormack

Maybe you have seen the full page ads in the Minneapolis – St Paul newspapers about same-day extractions and implants.     First off … this is truthful and it is possible to do this advanced care with today’s dentistry.  But let’s look at this a little closer.

Myths and Facts:

  • Same-day refers to the extractions, implants, and dentures.  It can be accomplished in one day.
  • There is considerable pre-planning and appointments needed to prepare for that same-day surgery.  That includes examinations, cat scans, photos, impression of the jaw, etc.
  • Some people might need bone grafts to build up the area supporting the implants.
  • The implants and dentures might not be the final restorations needed.   Some of the implants might be temporary or transitional … same with the dentures or bridgework.
  • Follow-up appointments can be significant.
  • These are very highly trained specialists and surgeons.  Their fees reflect that.  Typical fees can easily start at $15,000 and reach $30,000 or more.    [not a typo.]
  • Although implants are very very successful, not everyone is a candidate for them … especially the dramatic results seen on TV and in the newspapers.

Let us know if you want more information on these remarkable options for your dental care. 

The world of  Dentistry is always changing, improving, and offering a wide range of treatment options.


Kids Teeth & Decay … Baby Teeth Matter!

January 31st, 2014 - By steve.mccormack


Kid’s Teeth ARE Important  

[click this video link from the WDA]


Baby teeth should be kept healthy until the adult teeth erupt.  Some baby teeth aren’t lost until age 11 or later.


  1. They hold position for the permanent teeth.    Early loss means extra crowding in the adult teeth.
  2. Baby teeth can decay, become abscessed, chip or break like adult teeth.   Keep them healthy!  They are important.
  3. Children should be seen by age 1 or so for a first visit examination.    Don’t wait until age 3 or 4!
  4. Most children who start seeing us by age 1 are doing very well in the chair [by themselves] by age 2-3.

Why Don’t Dentists Take Medical Assistance?

October 31st, 2013 - By steve.mccormack


… An important question we are asked a lot.

As you might already know, it’s because the medical assistance program is broken like so much of our health care system.

For starters, MA reimburses at about 35% of dentist’s fees.   In our case our fees are, on average, 25-50% less than dentists in the MPLS-St Paul area so you can see how bad the reimbursement rate is. Unfortunately though, every hospital, nursing home, pharmacist and more are crying over the poor rates too. But it’s not just about the money.

Paperwork can be a bear, too. There are restrictions, pre-approvals and more that un-necessarily complicate things. Things have improved significantly with electronic records and on-line capabilities though.

Unfortunately too, is the reality that MA patients, when they are able to find a dentist taking MA, fail their appointments more than most.

So, the “government” decided one fix was to create FHQC … federal health qualified centers. These are brand new larger clinics with dentists who see MA patients and non-MA patients alike. The goal was to get care to the MA patients … a noble one … but in my view a poor one. These all new clinics are built with mostly federal funds, get much higher cost based reimbursement rates, offer loan forgiveness to new dentists, and receive operating grants.

For Polk County residents, the closest ones are in Rice Lake and Chippewa Falls. Even worse is that they have stated they will no longer take Polk County residents! I thought these were federally funded clinics in part? So MA patients with toothaches go to the emergency room at the local hospital and simply receive antibiotics and pain pills, which do very little to help. It’s expensive government reimbursed care that could be better used elsewhere.

The thinking has always been that if the reimbursement rates were a little better, most dentists would accept MA and none of the FHQC would have had to have been built … and maybe emergency room visits would go down.

So what does our office do to help? We do not accept MA patients for comprehensive care. However we do see some emergency only patients, especially children. We also donate care in some cases.

Of note too … Since we are an MA provider we are obligated by the MA program not to accept private pay for dental care. That means that even if an MA patient wants to pay for it all themselves, we cannot accept that. A non-MA provider can take private money. We have to bill MA for anything we do and accept that as final and total payment.

It’s all so frustrating. The MA system is a poor one, and too many dentists regrettably won’t even offer occasional emergency care. I wish it were better.

MA graph